Sat, Mar 28, 2015 - Page 1 News List

NSB employing ‘hackers’ for new cybersecurity unit

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

National Security Bureau Director-General Lee Shying-jow addresses the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee on Thursday.

Photo: CNA

A National Security Bureau (NSB) plan to establish a new department for cybersecurity in the coming months has received wide support among legislators, but some expressed concerns about security over recruiting “hackers” to work in government offices.

Bureau Director-General Lee Shying-jow (李翔宙) confirmed during a legislative session on Thursday that preparations are under way to recruit computer professionals from the private sector to staff the new cybersecurity unit, which is scheduled to start operating on May 1.

The new unit is to be designated the 7th Department (第七處) of the NSB and will have four working divisions: general services; research and development; countercyberattack; and network system defense.

The establishment of the new department represents the largest restructuring the bureau has undergone in two decades, and is seen as an important policy initiative and personal accomplishment of the current bureau chief.

The bureau, which is in charge of national security and intelligence affairs, was established in 1954 as an outgrowth of a division within the Department of Special Affairs in the Presidential Office.

After the lifting of martial law, the bureau’s mandate and organization with six major departments were set out in the Organization Act for the National Security Bureau (國家安全局組織法) of 1994.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) questioned the inherent risks of employing “hackers” to conduct cyberwarfare missions, saying they might pose a threat to national security.

Lee disagreed on the use of the term “hackers,” saying they are “cybersecurity experts.”

“They have already performed some assigned tasks and have done very well. So, we are looking to amend the laws regulating information and communications to fully utilize their talents within the bureau’s framework, without infringing on national security,” Lee said.

Most legislators backed the plan and endorsed a proposal to increase the bureau’s budget and expand its mandate.

Some suggested that Lee recruit members of Taiwanese youth teams who have won top places in international hacking competitions.

However, some lawmakers expressed misgivings about whether these individuals would fit in in a government setting where rules and restrictions abound.

“These skillful computer professionals are highly creative, but they are unrestrained in their ideas and habits,” Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said. “It would be difficult to properly manage them, which might lead to national security problems.”

“Our government agencies operate with a conservative mindset and in a highly restricted environment,” Tsai said. “It is unlikely that many young netizens and hackers would want to join the 7th Department.”

The bureau currently comprises six major departments, along with an Internal Security Department, a center for information collection and a Special Service Center for the personal protection of the president, vice president and their families.

The six departments are: international intelligence; intelligence operations focused on China; domestic security intelligence; analysis of national strategic intelligence; science and technology intelligence, and communication security; and research and development, and sections for deciphering and cipher code equipment.

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